Obviously, the painter of this excellent masterpiece – a vision of Lord Rama rendered on votive lines, seeks to represent what Tulsidasa realised in his couplet. As for the bow the painter has used it dually; on one hand it manifests the most essential, the evil-destroying, aspect of Lord Rama’s personality perceiving it with Tulsidasa as the tool of destroying evil, and on the other, uses it as his aesthetic tool for balancing and framing his figure of Lord Rama. A bow taller than his height not only frames his figure on the left but with its red base fluted with gold’s strips delightfully balances his sash identically dyed in red and worked with gold. For greater visual effect he has let his sash trail on the ground. It is not by over-sight that he has painted an arrow with a tiny size like a mere symbol, not like a piece of weapon such as might have pierced the body of mighty Ravana, obviously because he preferred minimising the bow’s role as weapon and more as an aesthetic tool.
The painter has wondrously synthesised his modernism with the tradition. In most of his medieval portraits Lord Rama is rendered in ‘pitambara’ – yellow ‘antariya’ or lower wear. Besides that in this portrait his yellow of the ‘antariya’ has blended with it tints of orange, a long sash, dyed in red and with golden border, lying on his shoulder, flanking on sides and trailing to the ground, and a black ‘patka’ – waistband, with large breadth and richly worked with gold – creating delightful contrast and effects, are certainly not the features of his conventional imagery. Most exotic are his shoes with quite high heels, stylistic toes and coloured leather tops outdoing even the latest of the shoe-fashions.
A tall figure with perfectly modeled and balanced anatomy, a round face glowing with divinity, deep thoughtful eyes, gentle features with small lips, broad forehead with a Vaishnava ‘tilaka’ mark and a well aligned neck define the image of Lord Rama. Though armed, the basic perception of the image is sublime quiescence. Besides a gems’ embedded towering crown he has behind his face a large halo with gold’s lustre. He has hung on his right shoulder his gold’s quiver studded with precious stones containing arrows, and on his left, a shoulder ornament/protective cover inlaid with rubies, emeralds and other gems. A large flower-shaped buckle of gold embedded with invaluable stones holds his waist-band. His figure has been further adorned with richly conceived ornaments on neck, arms and wrists and the characteristic Vaijayanti : the garland of fresh Parijata flowers, on his breast.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.